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CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
"Heroes Take The Fall"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "There used to be a feature in MAD Magazine entitled “Scenes We’d Like To See” that used to stand famous storytelling tropes on their heads by stretching them even further or by applying the kind of real-world logic that they generally tried to avoid if at all possible. Remember the story about the princess who kissed the frog and it was magically transformed into a handsome prince? In their version, their inevitable wedding would be interrupted by the arrival of the prince’s pissed-off frog wife. “Captain America: Civil War”—which is the third entry in the “Captain America” franchise and could probably be considered “The Avengers 2.5” as well—plays like a feature film version of that conceit by taking one of the aspects of the superhero genre that tend to get sloughed off along the way, namely the fates of all the innocent people that happen to be on the street or in office buildings when when the good guys and bad guys wind up leveling entire city blocks while beating each other up, and contemplating what might happen if those heroes were forced to deal with the collateral damage resulting from those heroics. At this point, some of you may be groaning a bit because the recent dud “Batman Vs. Superman” sort of tried to do a variation on this very same idea utilizing a decidedly dark and dour approach and could not have made a bigger botch of it if it had tried. Happily, “Civil War” is a far more entertaining and interesting variation on that them that takes the conceit seriously enough while at the same time leavening the material with enough humor to keep it from becoming a depressing bore. The end results should more than satisfy both the hardcore fans of the ever-expanding Marvel cinematic universe and neophytes alike, though at a wildly overstuffed 2 1/2 hours, it is unlikely that many will come away from it immediately hungering for more." (more)
FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE
"Not exactly Vacationland."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2016: Growing up in Maine (though born elsewhere), I've heard variations of the "almost a Mainer" joke that one character tells all my life, although it seldom seemed as pointedly exclusionary as it does in "Five Nights in Maine". Then again, I am not nearly so obviously "from away" as someone like this film's visitor is, even if the story doesn't always play into that as a mostly-quiet tale of grief." (more)
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
"The One Stooge."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "If you want to enjoy "Big Trouble in Little China" the correct way, listen to its director, John Carpenter, and star, Kurt Russell, who will cheerfully tell you that the man you might assume is the hero — intrepid trucker Jack Burton (Russell) — is actually the film’s idiot sidekick." (more)
MOTHER'S DAY (2016)
"This year, show Mom you care . . . by taking her to a different movie."
1 stars
Jaycie says... "Those who have seen 2015's The Big Short may recall Anthony Bourdain explaining collateralized debt obligations by making a stew out of three-day-old seafood. Garry Marshall takes the same approach with his holiday movies: repackaging old, tired product into something he wants you to believe is fresh." (more)
HOLLARS, THE
"Quality comedy, decent drama - it does better than all right."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2016: That "The Hollars" is an independent film in this day and age is a sort of indictment on the film industry: Its story is neither complicated nor difficult to relate to, the style is far from experimental, and the cast is almost entirely made up of familiar names and faces (if not necessarily people that will draw a guaranteed audience on their own). It is quality mainstream entertainment, and it's kind of weird that the people involved had to make it outside of a system that was traditionally built on movies like this." (more)
FLY, THE (1986)
"Postgraduate course in Cronenberg."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "It’s hard to fathom that it’s been decades since David Cronenberg was actually a horror-movie director." (more)
HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING, A
"Two terrific Toms."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "The opening sequence of "A Hologram for the King" maybe isn't that clever - it's actually a pretty literal take on an on-the-nose pop song - but it hints at Tom Hanks in the sort of broadly comic performance that he mainly brings out for talk shows and the sort of energetic, unconventional filmmaking that got director Tom Tykwer international attention with "Run Lola Run". That bit doesn't last, but it pushes the film into a differently odd place that makes for a smart, charming, funny film." (more)
RECONNOITER
"A nicely done sci-fi one-man-show."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: A fair number of people with the name of "Rowe" appear in the credits for "Reconnoiter" multiple times each, driving home just how independent a production it was, bordering on trying to make a sort of pre-emptive defense of its smallness. There isn't much way to avoid that, although this one probably deserves more praise for what it achieves than excuses for where it falls short; it's small but intriguing, with the filmmakers getting good results from what they can do." (more)
PROJET-M
"A fine French-Canadian space program."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2016 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: The festival opened with a film ("400 Days") that covers a lot of the same territory - global cataclysm happens while astronauts are undergoing long-term isolation trials - and this one is easily much better, despite having a lot of the same flaws. It's not that a somewhat handmade French-Canadian film is inherently better or more sincere than something made targeting the VOD market with familiar genre faces; it's that the folks making this one seem a lot more interested in their details, even if they don't quite seem sure of what they want the sum of those details to be." (more)
HUNTSMAN, THE: WINTER'S WAR
"I Bet Kristen Stewart Is Smiling Now. . ."
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Making a sequel to a big box-office hit is usually a no-brainer, at least from a commercial standpoint, but in the case of the 2012 film “Snow White and the Huntsman,” the path to a follow-up contained more than a few seemingly insurmountable obstacles. For starters, even though the film pulled in nearly $400 million around the world, it didn’t exactly go on to become a beloved modern classic—it wasn’t even the best Snow White-related film to hit theaters the year it came out. (That honor went to “Mirror Mirror,” which was hardly a masterpiece but which at least had a snappy visual style to it that kept it from becoming too much of a drag.) Then there was the inescapable fact that Kristen Stewart, the ostensible star of the first film, was highly unlikely to return to the part following the fallout from the scandalous romance that developed between her and married director Rupert Sanders that publicly broke just as it was going into release. Finally, while Charlize Theron was the only person who came out of the project relatively unscathed with her cheerfully diabolical performance as the evil stepmother/queen, her character died at the end and while bringing her back would be easy enough in theory, it would probably cost a ton of money to get her sign on for a sequel and that is assuming that she was interested in doing such a thing in the first place." (more)

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